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Many people go through a range of feelings after treatment is over. You might feel relieved and happy that you’ve made it this far. But it’s not unusual to feel frightened and lost, especially during the first few months after treatment. It can be a confusing time. You’re no longer busy with appointments. Family and friends might not visit or call as much to see how you are. People seem to think you’re doing okay, when you’re not so sure.
When you finish treatment, it’s important to know that there’s no right or wrong way to feel. Everyone’s experience is different, but it’s quite common to feel:
Worried that the cancer will come back – You may spend a lot of time wondering whether the treatment really worked and worrying that the cancer will come back (recurrence).
Lonely and isolated – Many survivors are surprised to find that they miss their healthcare team. The treatment schedule brought a certainty to their lives and it felt good to know that they were actively fighting the cancer. And now that’s missing. You may be spending a lot more time on your own now. You may feel that the people around you don’t or can’t understand what you’ve been through. If you’re coping with changes to your appearance, this can make you feel lonely because you may find that you now feel different from other people – even if the changes aren’t obvious to everyone.
Angry – Many cancer survivors feel anger, an emotion that can vary in intensity. You may be a little bit frustrated about things that happened during diagnosis or treatment. Or you could be feeling very angry if your family and friends aren’t as helpful or supportive as they were during treatment.
Grief for what you’ve lost – As a cancer survivor, you may be grieving the loss of a body part, the ability to have children or your financial security.
Hesitant to move forward – Some cancer survivors find it hard to move forward after treatment. You may be wondering how to put your life back together or adjust to your “new normal.”
Uncertain about old and new relationships – You may be worried that people will treat you differently from before you were diagnosed and had cancer treatment. Or you may be concerned that people may be uncomfortable around you because you’ve had cancer.
Worried about physical side effects and how they might affect your work and social life.
Different about your body and general health – Many people say their self-confidence gets battered. They no longer take their health for granted now that they have had cancer.